Chinese protest at home demolitions

Rare demonstration highlights millions left behind by rapid urban development.

    Protesters said land seizures and high housing prices left them with no hope of finding new homes

    Wearing white headbands emblazoned with slogans denouncing government demolitions, many in the crowd demanded to see the head of the construction ministry.
     
    Left behind
     
    The protest underscored how rapid urban redevelopment is leaving many Chinese behind and widening an already stark wealth gap.
     
    "We regular citizens can't go on anymore. What can we do? We have no house, our homes have been demolished and we can't even petition"

    Wang Xueyi, protester

    On Thursday official data showed that China's already record-high housing prices had jumped 10.5 per cent in December from a year earlier, inflating the assets of Chinese who already own property but straining the ability of millions of others to buy homes.
     
    While protests over property seizures and other non-political issues have popped up occasionally in Beijing, the gathering on Thursday was unusually large and well-organised.
     
    Police and security guards attempted to prevent journalists from filming the demonstration and tried to rip off headbands from the protesters' heads.
     
    The protesters said that in one case the government sold valuable land in the centre of Tianjin to developers who later entered it in a Hong Kong auction to attract investors.
     
    One of the protesters, Wang Xueyi, 57, said she had received 104,000 yuan ($14,250) in compensation for her two-bedroom home in Tianjin's central Hexi district in 2004.
     
    "We regular citizens can't go on anymore. What can we do? We have no house, our homes have been demolished and we can't even petition," she said.
     

    Protesters said government compensation was
    not enough to buy new homes [AFP]

    She showed reporters documents which said officials sold the land to a local developer.
     
    Wang said her husband died shortly afterwards from stress and she now lives with relatives.
     
    "The compensation is not fair. People can't afford to buy a new house with the money," she said.
     
    Wang said she was detained for more than 40 days last summer when she went to Beijing to petition the government.
     
    Another demonstrator, Feng Xuying, said her house was demolished in June 2004 and she and her husband, both of whom are unemployed, received 42,000 yuan in compensation.
     
    Feng said the couple and their two daughters were afterwards given space in a hospital building while the land on which their former home stood remains unoccupied.
     
    "I have been petitioning in Tianjin and Beijing in order to get fair treatment, but no one with the government visited us," she said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.